FanPost

2013: The season of the *

I decided not to make a snap judgement on the Erat deal and instead slept on it before this. Feel free to imagine the voice of Morgan Freeman as you read.

Outside my door, it's raining. Again. It's been a weird spring with the weather, going from warm to cold to dry to wet and back again, sometimes in the span of 48 hours.

That, to me, also sums up the Predators' season. From cold streak to hot, offensive prowess in some games to WTF? on others, it's been just plain weird.

Although this season will stand in record books for all eternity, it will also forever carry a huge asterisk. The same asterisk that will rest alongside the name of the Stanley Cup winner with the words "shortened season" in a notation somewhere.

Fair or not, that's just what it is. A shortened season, and not the true test that is the standard-issue 82-game slate. Condensed schedules that cut back on practice time have definitely hurt the Preds. Some players went to Europe during the lockout and some chose to stay home. A truncated training camp was a bad thing. The coaching staff didn't have the opportunity to get an extended look at the younger players, which could have helped with some of the early-season decisions.

I admit, I thought this team could succeed. I even picked them to win the Central. Boy, I messed that up royally. But who could have predicted that the Blackhawks would come out like gangbusters and have Corey Crawford and Ray Emery play like they have? Put your hands down, you're lying. Or take your act to Vegas and give me 10 percent for finding you out.

This team forgot how to play a solid road game, and don't get me started about the shootout.

The injury bug bit early and often, and while every team has had to deal with it in some way, shape or form, the shortened season amplifies the problem. Players who might have missed four games now miss seven or eight, and any extended absence only hurts the team that much more.

There was Scott Hannan, whose time had certainly been scrutinized far more than I care to acknowledge here. His miscues had a direct impact on a few games early in the season and he had fallen out of favor with Trotz before being moved yesterday. For GMDP to get anything out of him is a win. Perhaps San Jose gave up the conditional pick for Hannan out of sentimentality.

Then there was the matter of replacing Suter. Josi has done a very good job in his role, and he's certainly proven he belongs. But I, like a lot of other people I know, might have taken this too lightly in saying that Suter was definitely replaceable. It's been more difficult without him.

Same with Tootoo. His going to Detroit just flat out sucked. I've grown on Rich Clune a bit, but he doesn't throw opponents off their game like Toots did. That's been hard to replace.

While we were spinning our wheels on Suter, other teams were getting better. That was a red flag to a lot of pundits, who have pretty accurately summed up where the Preds were going to be this season. For once, they got it right.

And finding out that Erat wanted out is a bit troubling, yes, but at least he didn't make a Roberto Luongo-type scene about it. That's something to take forward.

In truth, a playoff run appearance might not be in the best interest of the Preds. Another first-round exit would have done nothing but solidify the notion of Nashville as a middle-of-the-pack team that is spinning its wheels trying to find some traction.

Do I condone tanking? No. You play to win the game. But I'm not going to be heartbroken if the Preds miss out on the postseason. Maybe the draft lottery falls our way and we get that top draft pick that we have so desperately needed. (Note to GMDP: Please do not spend any such high pick on a goaltender. That's why we have Mitch Korn.)

But I want to see this team win in the long run. And I'm glad Poile didn't try to deal for a rental or take on a big contract. This summer is the great unknown, and can shape the franchise for years to come. It should certainly be better than last July.

If we do make the playoffs, I'm going to do my absolute best to try and be there. If not, I'm not crying. Because this season will always have the asterisk beside it.

This FanPost was written by an OTF reader, and does not represent the views of the editorial staff. Got something you'd like to share? <a href="http://www.sbnation.com/admin/entries/new?community_id=208&entry_type=FanPost" target="new">Post your own</a>!

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